Marry Christmas


by Linda Phillips

Marry Christmas by Linda Phillips

Growing up with an undiagnosed learning disability and a name that screams intelligence, Britanica Jaymes suffers ridicule as a child. Pudgy, frazzled hair and a face plastered with freckles added to the ridicule. The support of family, friends and God provided all the love she needed. But there was one serious problem: candy canes are her form of kryptonite. Desperate, she made a secret Christmas wish. Most everything is coming true, except for true love.

Signs of reverting back to the learning disability and still seeking true love, the magic of Christmas lingers in the air, and a dose of Shakespeare, Rambo and snowflakes help to create a perfect Christmas recipe of hope.

Skip the final ingredient: peppermint At least for now, until the cure is found.


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Release Date: November 16, 2021

Genre: Holiday | Christmas Romance

~ A White Satin Romance ~



Excerpt

Chapter One

“It doesn’t matter if you’re born in a duck yard, so long as you are hatched by a swan’s egg.”

— Hans Christian Anderson

 

A cluster of twinkling lights, followed by a white, fluffy Pom-Pom, fluttered through the University of Wisconsin library. It paused and swirled around Britanica Jaymes before exiting through the window.

Britanica glanced up at the apparition and quickly dismissed it. Great. I’m seeing the fairy godmother ball again. I must be losing my mind. She turned her attention back to her Christmas card list, admiring her Christmas tree-shaped pen, turning it back and forth between her fingers. Her foot tap, tap, tapped to a Christmas melody, and out of the corner of her eye, she noticed the woman at the next table frowning. “I’m sorry,” she mouthed before turning back to her work.

Suddenly, she heard a whisper of jingling bells, and a mild breeze blew hair in her face. She quivered and inhaled the quick aroma of pine, cinnamon, and just-baked cookies. Yep. I’m definitely losing my mind. Seeing sparkling balls, hearing bells, and smelling Christmas scents. Not a bad way to go crazy, though. She smiled.

Her friend Donny stood and packed his study materials. “Why are you smiling?” he asked.

“Oh, nothing,” she replied. “You know, thinking about Christmas and how much I love it.”

He rolled his eyes and glanced at her cards. “Hold on before you seal that envelope. You spelled ‘Merry’ wrong. You love Christmas so much, you think you’d spell that correctly.”

“What?” she shrieked, pulling out her earbuds. She glanced at the card.

 

Marry Christmas

Love, Britanica

 

Britanica glanced at the photo album she kept near when writing Christmas cards. She peered at her spelling error again and glanced at the image sitting next to it. Frozen in time, her brother, Webster, and friend, Gene, smiled back at her. She rubbed her finger across the picture, and sparks of twinkling lights burst out in a flash. She pulled her finger back in painless shock and shook her head as if to clear the electricity.

“Are you playing Christmas music?” Donny asked.

Pulling out just one earbud, she pulled the iPod off her lap and plopped it on the table. “Yeah. So what?”

“I can hear it, Brit. Geez. You’re the only college student I know who listens to Christmas music.”

“So, I happen to love Christmas music. When did that become a crime?” She threw him a grimace, immediately regretting her spitefulness. As an apology, she blew him a kiss.

“Yeah, whatever. Anyhow, like I said, you misspelled Merry. Unless there’s something you’re not telling me…” He leaned his head towards her with a spill-the-beans smirk.

Realizing the implications of her misspelling, her eyes bulged. Bile rose in her throat.

Donny looked at her quizzically. “Hang on. It’s not a big deal. Someone bring me the defibrillator, STAT,” he said with a laugh. Then he froze, realizing that she really was upset.

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Then she opened them and gave him a shaky smile. “That is a silly mistake. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.” Her eyes blurred with tears, and her lips trembled. One tear snuck down, so she gently patted her nose with the back of her hand.

He didn’t know about her childhood memories of ridicule—and she wasn’t telling him about it.

“Brit, are you crying?” His eyebrows pushed together, and he gently touched her shoulder.

“No. Of course not. I got something in my eyes.” Like tears.

“Well, I am going to be a doctor. You can be my first patient,” he remarked, smiling wide enough to blind her with his bright, white teeth.

“I’m good now. Just allergies. Thanks, though.” She squeezed his hand.

“Okay. Well, I gotta run. I’ll catch up with you later,” he said with a peck on her cheek before scurrying out of the library.

Her eyes fell back down to the card, and she sighed in despair. I think that’s enough card writing for today. As she packed up her supplies, card boxes dropped to the floor. She bent over to pick up her belongings, letting out an exasperated huff. When she raised up, a handsome guy stood dangerously close to her. She smiled at him, and in a husky voice, he asked, “Can I kiss you?”

She blushed and said, “Well, yes, I guess...”

Before she could finish her sentence, he pulled her into his arms and kissed her passionately. When he pulled away, her face remained expressionless. Though she was dizzy from exhilaration, she stood rigid like a statue.

Then he pointed to the ceiling, and following his finger, she saw mistletoe. Some bystanders clapped silently while the librarian stood, glaring with a scolding face.

“Kissing under the mistletoe is a Christmas rule. Isn’t it bad luck if you ignore it?” he asked with a grin that liquefied her insides.

She glanced down at the floor, trying to fleece her beaming smile. “Yeah, uh. That was a nice...” But when she looked up, he was gone. She touched her lips with her fingers and smiled.

On her way home, the excitement from the kiss dwindled into self-loathing. I can’t even fill out Christmas cards without making mistakes. Maybe they were right. Maybe I am a dunce.

When Britanica walked into the house, Karyn, her mother, cheerily announced, “You’re home just in time. I made fried chicken.”

Raising the left side of her mouth with a disgusting sneer, Britanica growled, “You know I don’t eat fried foods anymore. Sheesh, Mom. Besides, I’m not hungry.” Frowning, she turned and clomped up the stairs.

Karyn’s face turned pale, and her body froze in paralyzing surprise. Oh no. I did it again. Her mind flashed back to the last time Britanica snapped at her like that.

Karyn had been waiting for her daughter to get home. “How about a piece of chocolate cake?” she had asked when Britanica came through the door.

“Why? So, I can get even fatter?” Britanica had yelled. “It’s bad enough that you gave me a terrible name that I can’t live up to, but now you want to make me fatter and uglier than I am now? Really, Mother!”

Later, when Britanica apologized, she vowed to lose weight, and she also asked her parents to test her for a learning disability.

Knowing that she had a learning disability helped Britanica understand why studying was more difficult for her than her peers, and Britanica had gained so much confidence since she started focusing on healthy eating. And here I am offering her fried food like a dummy, Karyn thought. Karyn shook her head, evacuating the memory from her mind. She hated that her daughter was having a tough time again. She retired on the couch and flicked on the TV, staring into oblivion with thoughts that Britanica may need some time alone, but it wasn’t long before she heard her footsteps echoing down the stairs.

“Mom?”

“Hi, honey. Come sit.” Karyn patted the couch beside her.

Britanica sunk into the cushions and sighed. “I had a bad experience today, so I’m sorry for hurting your feelings. But seriously, I don’t eat fried foods anymore, and believe me, it’s not without difficulty. The smell of fried chicken makes my stomach growl like a bear. Maybe I’ll just fix a salad or something.”

Grrrr. Her stomach protested in disagreement of eating a salad, and she rubbed it disappointedly.

“I’m sorry, dear. I know you’ve been eating healthy. I just had a craving, and the sinful thought of fried chicken was too powerful to ignore. You deserve a medal for resisting the devil like you’ve been doing,” Karyn said, snickering.

“You know what Pastor Mustache always says.”

Karyn laughed heartily at Britanica’s nickname for Pastor Beard, especially since he didn’t have a beard or a mustache.

“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,” Britanica said.

“Wise man. Looks like I have some repenting to do.”

“Oh, Mom, talk about overreacting. I’m really sorry I blew up on you.”

“It’s fine, kiddo. But do you want to talk about your bad day?”

“No, I’m good. Just been one of those days. But dang, that chicken did smell good.”

“It was good,” Karyn said with an evil smile. “Sorry, I’m not sorry.”

“I bet it was. All the ridicule I took for being a fatso, it’ll take me a while to eat something that sinful. Besides, I defeated that vile beast Gluttony many years ago, and it was I who cast him into an abysmal dungeon.” She let out a snicker.

Karyn smiled, and she knew Britanica was going to delve into one of her dramatic diatribes that Karyn loved so much.

“And, yes, he calls out to me in my mind. ‘Smell,’ he says. ‘Gaze. Eat. Eat. Eat, my child.’ Then I come to my senses and denounce his cruel intent by saying, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan’!”

Britanica’s monologue relieved Karyn. She never wanted Brit to sink back into a hole of self-conscious despair again.

Belting out her words with authority, Britanica continued. “He will NOT escape to torture us human beings any longer. It is I who holds the fate of this world in my own hands. He shall never deceive me again, nor escape his doom of getting so fat he cannot walk. He has tortured mankind, and his sentence to solitude and flab is justified.”

Karyn laughed and clapped at her performance, but then a sympathetic smile formed. She couldn’t shake the memories of how low and frightening Britanica’s self-esteem had descended in her childhood years. Even then, she hid it with her ability to make them laugh, turning awkward moments into performances that distracted their pity for her.

“Brit, are you sure you’re okay?” Karyn asked.

“Yeah, Mom. I’m good. I know how you worry. It’s just a bad day—not a plunge into self-despair.”

“Okay, but if you need to talk, I’m here.”

“I know, Mom. Hey, before I forget, how would you feel about me moving into a dorm with my friends next year?”

“Wow! You caught me off guard, but I guess it makes sense. What college student wants to live at home; right?”

“Yeah, but it’s not that I don’t need you and Dad. I just want to experience the whole college thing.”

“I certainly understand that. I’ll miss you being here,” she said with a frown. “But I’ll speak with your father about it.”

 

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